Even for a Martin McDonagh protagonist, Harry is an unusually prolific killer. He’s put 233 men in their graves. Yet Harry is not as delighted with his lot as you’d think: he’s merely the second-best executioner in town, and we’ll meet both in Hangmen (at the Linda Gross Theater through March 7 and expected at Broadway’s Cort Theatre a few weeks later). Any new play by McDonagh, the celebrated Anglo-Irish dramatist and filmmaker, constitutes an event, and this one is as viperishly funny as the norm. Considering the play in conjunction with McDonagh’s recent Oscar-nominated film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, though, is instructive and clarifying. What unifies the two works is breathtakingly unserious.

We open in familiar territory for a McDonagh work: a man is...

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